The Legislature on Thursday heard Bill 116, which seeks to expand the number of individuals and agencies who will be authorized to issue littering or illegal dumping citations.
The Guam Police Department is one of those agencies and according to the GPD Chief, the members of the Neighborhood Watch program and even the Municipal Planning Council will be added to the expanding list.
Senator Sabina Perez, who introduced the bill, says the legislation proposes to empower a wider set of apprehending officers.
Should the bill pass, aside from GPD those designated from DPR, Department of Agriculture, Guam EPA, Public Health, and DPW as well as village mayors, vice mayors, and any Airport and Port of Guam Police would be able to serve notices of violations to those who are breaking illegal dumping laws.
GPD Chief Stephen Ignacio says that his department is looking at including the members of the Neighborhood Watch Program to the list of designated individuals who can issue illegal dumping citations.
“Hopefully, that’s what happens … that they will expand the number of people in the different areas including the mayors, the vice mayors, and even the municipal planning council members. One of the things that we talked about is our Neighborhood Watch Program —that there are members of our neighborhood watch program that are very proactive in the community and you know, they want to address littering and all of the other issues that are affecting their communities. So we are looking at expanding our neighborhood watch volunteers into our CAPE program so that they will also have that ability to issue citations,” Ignacio said.
However, Chief Ignacio raised some concerns about using the CAPE program for this purpose, saying that the number of volunteers have dwindled during the past few months. Some former members are either inactive or dropped out of the program. Some of them actually moved from a CAPE volunteer to a reserve officer position.
“What they’re trying to do is just to include the CVP and police reserve and also our CAPE volunteers but I did bring it up to the attention of the senators that you know that the CAPE volunteer program has lost most of its volunteers …at the last count we may be down to 1 or 2 volunteers,” Ignacio said.
Ignacio believes that the additional responsibilities will not strain GPD’s current resources since it is not the same as creating a task force or hiring a group of officers to go out and specifically address dumping. It’s just incorporating what they do everyday and no different from issuing a citation for a speeder or for a broken taillight
Meanwhile, Bill 116 also seeks to increase littering fines. Violators convicted of littering could pay anywhere from $500 to $1000.
The measure also proposes changes to the Litter Control Revolving Fund, allowing the purchase of supplies and equipment to assist with enforcement of the law and also allowing more funds to support the efforts of these apprehending officers.